Comics Daze

Home sweet couch!

On the way back from the Big Ears festival, I stopped for a few days in New York and was going to visit comics shops and get my shopping on and stuff. But instead I got a gastro thing, and ended up staying in the hotel room for a week… and also sprained my ankle when I fainted or something. I’m kinda sorta fine now, though, except for having to keep my foot elevated. I’m not up for doing anything taxing brain wise as I’m mostly vegetating on a “hurr durr” level, but I got, like, 50 pounds of comics yesterday… Lot’s of stuff I’m looking forward to reading (new books from CF!!!), but I’m just gonna read stuff that’s easier on the brain today, and I’m saving that stuff until a later day.

And for music… uhm… OK, only albums that I liked as a child.

A reconvalescing kind of day?

Neil Young: After The Gold Rush

07:20: Donald’s Happiest Adventures by Lewis Trondheim & Keramidas (Fantagraphics)

This is another one of these French revisionist Donald Duck stories. I had some problems getting into it, mostly just by how it’s structured (as “Sunday pages”, sort of, with a gag at the end of every page), but then it started growing on me.

The artwork’s wonky, but charming, and the story trundles along very nicely without getting too manic or too sedate. It’s pretty good.

Genesis: Trespass

07:47: Karmela Krimm 2: Neige Écarlate by Franck Biancarelli & Lewis Trondheim (Zoom)

As with the first album, the artwork is attractive, but the storytelling is a bit choppy.

But it’s a fun story — it’s a quite original plot, and nothing much happens as you’d expect. It’s pretty good.

Joni Mitchell: Blue

08:11: Marry Me A Little by Rob Kirby (Graphic Mundi)

This is a pleasantly meandering kind of book — it’s like a brain dump where one thing reminds Kirby of another thing and then he draws that. But it sometimes feels way too wordy — I mean, nothing wrong with words, but I don’t always understand why he’s telling us some of these things. There’s quite a lot of text that’s just not that interesting.

The colouring approach is original, but mostly it doesn’t seem to… do much. There’s these blue or red splotches all over the place, and they seem kinda random. Sometimes he does use the colours more thoughtfully (like above), but the colours are mostly just there.

So — I don’t think it’s an altogether successful book, but it’s a pleasant read.

David Bowie: Hunky Dory

08:47: Mortadelo y Filemón: ¡Elecciones! by Francisco Ibáñez (Zoom)

I remember this series from when I was a child — it was one of those rare Spanish series for children that got widely translated. I remember the humour being kinda Don Martinesque, but gross and violent, and I haven’t read the series since I was, like, twelve.

But it’s still being published! So I randomly bought this album, because I was curious to see what it’s like these days.

There’s even less of a story here than I remember there being. It’s nominally about two secret agents, where one can change into any costume at the drop of a hat, but this album is “about” an election mania…

It’s basically just chaos — every handful of panels you get a gag, and all the gags are basically the same: The agent with the red pants has a pratfall of some kind. The puns keep flowing, but none of them actually seem that funny? Even as an eight-year-old I found the series to be exhausting and tedious, and I guess I haven’t changed.

There’s an index in the back of the album, and Ibáñez has apparently created 214 (!) of these albums (but only a couple dozen have been translated). So that’s 10K pages of this aimless kind of havoc, which is an achievement of sorts, I guess.

Now I need a shower. Be right back.

Neil Young: Harvest

09:47: Barelli: Bomber til søs by Bob DeMoor (E-Voke)

Shower-in-the-tub isn’t very er handicap friendly… but I survived!

DeMoor was Hergé’s long time assistant, and his artwork is really attractive, I think. It’s filled with all these details without being cluttered, and everything just looks real (even if cartoony).

And the storytelling on a page-to-page basis is solid. It is a really cramped story, though — it’s just 32 pages long, but it has enough plot for twice as many pages.

It’s plenty entertaining.

Genesis: Foxtrot

10:18: A First Time For Everything by Dan Santat (First Second)

Huh. Why did I buy this, then? I had sworn off First Second years ago… must have been something in the solicitation that sounded interesting…

This art style isn’t really my thing. The sheer bobble-headedness of it all.

David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars

It starts off really unpromising — like a generic story of a generic nerd without any character, and how awful middle school is, etc.

And many of the scenes feel totally fake. But… about half of the book works, and is plenty charming. I can well imagine thousands of 14 year old nerds loving this book, because instead of being sad, it’s a hopeful, wistful kind of book.

Pink Floyd: The Dark Side Of The Moon

11:25: Les vieux fourneaux 7: Clauds comme le climat by Lupano / Cauuet (Zoom)

I love this series…. it’s straightforwardly good-natured (i.e., socialist/anarchist).

This time around, the problems they face aren’t as straightforward, though, and it all ends up being more than a bit sorrowful.

I love they way they draw all these old people. I feel seen!

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane

12:33: Rigel: Urettens ekko by Ida Larmo (Strand)

This book tells the story of the Rigel disaster, where the British bombed a German prison transport, killing more than 2500 people (mostly Soviet prisoners of war).

The storytelling is unfortunately a bit unresolved. Larmo mainly follows two people (one a Soviet prisoner and one a Norwegian prisoner), and these sequences work very well (and are quite moving). But then she drops into these asides about other people that feel irrelevant, or infodumps at inopportune moments. It’s feels like… there’s a fantastic book in here? Lovely artwork and convincing portrayals. The book just needs some rearranging and light editing?

Various: This Is Reggae Music

13:30: Le Maitre chololatier 3: La Plantation by Chetville/Corbeyran/Gourdon (Zoom)

This album concludes the trilogy (it seems like the fashion today in French comics publishing is to produce three albums worth of anything), and as usual, it’s well-told and attractively drawn…

… but the storyline (which is about a guy who wants to make good chocolate) has both French and Chinese mobsters, which seems a bit overboard for something like this.

It’s a pleasant read, though.

David Bowie: Diamond Dogs

14:15: Jeu de dames 1-2 by Toldac/Philan (E-Voke)

The artwork isn’t really appealing — it’s going for classic French(ey) realistic adventure style, but it just looks kinda coarse and chunky.

The plot isn’t that bad, but the storytelling — oy vey. It’s like the author spent years planning an intricate plot, but then had absolutely no idea how to turn it into a proper story. It frequently feels like I’m reading a recap.

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

It’s such a frustrating read that I almost ditched it some pages in. But I stuck it out, and… I really should have ditched it. The plot’s fine, but the plot is the least important thing about a comic book.

Joni Mitchell: The Hissing Of Summer Lawns

15:07: Nervous Rex #1 by William Van Horn (It’s Alive)

I remember this series from the 80s — I think it was published by one of the Schanes brothers? I remember it being really funny and quite cute.

Oh! This is just a reprint of that old series. But on shiny paper, and… really kinda weirdly reproduced. It looks like if they’ve scanned the printed comics in colour and then kinda sorta smashed it into black and white. That is, the lines don’t look crisp, and the stipples look awful.

And… while I remember this as being really charming, it just seems a bit old-fashioned now: The main gag is that the T Rex is really small, and is henpecked by his wife.

David Bowie: Young Americans

15:23: Les tuniques bleues 29 & 63 by Lambil & Cauvin (Egmont)

And here’s another series I randomly bought a couple of albums from. Again, this is a series I remember from my childhood, but haven’t read since I was twelve. But it’s still being published, so perhaps it’s better than I remember…

The first of these albums is from 1989. I had quite forgotten that this series takes place during the US civil war…

Ah, right — the main gag is that one of the soldiers wants to get out of the army, but his best buddy thwarts that. Hi-jinx ensue.

Nothing much about this set-up is explained in this album, but I guess that the creators felt that, 29 albums in, the readers get what’s going on.

The plot is pretty basic, but the storytelling is lively.

The other album is from 2019, and is a depressing affair. It seems like they’ve started basing the stories more on actual history, so we get the retelling of a battle (that the good guys lost), and it’s just no fun.

It’s like the creators are exhausted; no enthusiasm to be seen.

Well, I’m not buying any more of this series — that’s for sure. But I’m not sorry I bought these two albums — it’s kinda interesting to see where this series has ended up.

The Rolling Stones: Black and Blue

16:38: Skare by Aleksander Kirkwood Brown / Thomas Falla Eriksen (Strand)

This is a post-apocalyptic kind of thing — everything’s frozen, etc.

These are very attractive pages — good layouts and great colouring. The actual line work is kinda rough, though — it’s a weird mix.

The story is very, very standard, but it’s fine.

16:53: The End

And now I think I should take a nap. Or possibly just go to bed for the night, even if it’s er early.

I think I’ve basically read all the … mainstream comics I have here, so the next Comics Daze is gonna be more alternative.

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